Large, thin tiles have become great trend in the ceramic industry and lately the market has responded with higher demands for those sizes. However, manufacturing these big slabs involves some big challenges. The difficulties tile makers face when producing these sizes are related to the mechanics of the tile, the manufacturing methods and the raw materials. One of the greatest challenges has been the conflicts in Ukraine, where most of the clay to manufacture these types of tiles comes from. This has affected significantly the market pricing.
Large and thin tiles are one of the most important trends in the ceramics market right now, as we have already talked about in this blog. However, the manufacturing of these thinner tiles can be tricky, and maintaining the quaity is a challenge.
Tile sizes have been increasing lately not only because large tiles have become a trend, also because of the improvement in the technology that allows to make these tiles. In some of our blog posts we already talked about trends in the market and about avoiding breakage in large tiles but, how big can a tile reach to be?
Clay body formulation has been in a continuous evolution since the modern-day tile industry trended towards large and more aesthetic in appearance. This evolution is calling for adjustments to achieve required performances whilst optimizing production costs.
The clay does not last forever and, with limited deposits and high market demands, the best clay is very expensive. Add to that the conflict in Crimea, where the Russian occupation has choked the supply of cheap Ukrainian high-quality clay, and you face a situation where lack of supply has caused the raw material prices to increase five times since the manufacturers started using it. This is, of course, critical for the industry, but the forward leaning manufacturers go looking for alternative sources.
Market trends are not easy to predict, but sometimes they are even difficult to evaluate in hindsight. The popularity of large ceramic tiles was initially a result of creative Italian producers experimenting with their product. Why they became so popular is still subject to discussions, but their impact on the market means that manufacturers need to adjust their business models to be competitive.